The Road to Rennsport

It’s just before 3:30am in Escondido, a small city on the outskirts of San Diego, California. The streets are still shrouded in the darkness of the night sky, but the asphalt at Makellos Classics is illuminated by the headlights of five air-cooled Porsche, their flat sixes rumbling harmoniously as photographer Dan Pullen and I roll into the premises and hop out of our rental truck.

There’s plenty of activity going on around the cars as Makellos proprietor Matt Kenyon and his team load a weekend’s worth of belongings into the front trunks and behind the front seats of the quintet of 911s set for today’s seven-hour journey north. The destination is Laguna Seca, the storied race track just off the Monterey peninsula; the event in question is Rennsport Reunion VI, arguably the greatest Porsche event of its kind on Earth.

“Everybody set? It’s time to go!” shouts Matt, his voice just about audible over the thrum of five air-cooled Porsche exhausts. I hurry my stuff into the lead car, a 1979 Turbo, its wide rear hips and tea tray wing wonderfully silhouetted against the dipped beam of the S/T replica behind.

Belongings in place, I take my own position at the helm of the 930, sliding the seat forward on its runners and adjusting the car’s electric exterior mirrors. Matt takes his seat up front with me and, with a ‘clink’ from his closing door, gives me the nod to leave. Road to Rennsport is go! 

There’s a crescendo of noise as the five Porsche increase their revs and file off the terra firma at Makellos, sloping onto the road one by one. We’re in front, with Matt reading out directions to Monterey from his smartphone.

Pulling away in the Turbo is easy, its biting point nice and low, though my early morning brain hasn’t quite computed the fact this car has a grand total of four forward gears to make use of, and I soon find myself reaching for the gear shifter and pulling it through the gate and towards me into second. We’re barely above 20mph.

I look at Matt to see if my error’s been registered, the grin on his face suggesting it has. “Only two more ratios to go and we’re done!” I joke as we pull up to a set of traffic lights, their highlighted red signal allowing me a chance to bring the Turbo to a stop and reselect first.

That four-speed gearbox is a renowned if decisive quirk to Porsche’s 930. Although the early Turbo benefitted from 14 years of continuous development, gaining an intercooler, bigger displacement and numerous chassis revisions (as we covered extensively in issue 170), it wasn’t until the last of those years, 1989, when Zuffenhausen finally lavished the car with a five-speed gearbox.

Those cars are thus the most desirable 930s now, the repute of these four-speed cars from 1975 to 1988 boiling down to a matter of taste. I myself quite like the four-speed 930, having warmed to its quirkiness over the years and enjoyed the somewhat Jekyll-and-Hyde drive exacerbated by those longer gears – so long as it’s not at 4am on the west coast of an entirely different continent, of course.

Get the full 930 Turbo drive up PCH as part of our road trip special issue 196, all delivered to your door as part of our lavish magazine dedicated only to the Porsche 911. You can also download a digital copy with high definition bonus galleries to any Apple or Android device.

Comments (0)